June 1st, 2021 Newsletter

June 1st, 2021 Newsletter

Artisanti E-Newsletter - The Stories Behind the Bells
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Artful, One-of-a-Kind Gifts

Handmade Decor Pieces

and So Much More


June 1, 2021 Volume 11

California Cosanti Superfans Put Us in a Golden State of Mind

California couple Christopher and Bobby have been enthusiastically collecting Cosanti Originals windbells for almost seven years.


Bobby, who grew up in the Phoenix area, knew of the off-the-beaten-path artisan enclave of Cosanti, with its windbells and its primitive-meets-futuristic architecture. But after moving to California in 1996, Cosanti and its famous Cosanti Windbells became a fond childhood memory for Bobby...until he and Christopher received a #107 bronze windbell as a wedding gift six years ago. They hung it above a bridge overlooking their rose garden - a peaceful reminder of Bobby’s home state of Arizona.

Christopher and Bobby have a tradition of vacationing to celebrate their wedding anniversary but last year, the couple’s European travel plans were thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic. Still wanting to mark their anniversary in a special way, Christopher and Bobby decided to add to their art collection.


They weren’t quite sure what they were looking for, but they knew they wanted a large, “statement” piece. Says Bobby, “Besides the criteria of being a larger piece of art, we weren’t sure what we wanted. Maybe something we could display outside...so we were talking about it, really narrowing down some options, and walking through our gardens, when our windbell - the one we'd been given as a wedding gift - caught the breeze and started to ring.” Was it a sign? Perhaps.

Soon after, the two traveled to Arizona, visiting Cosanti in Paradise Valley to see if we still made the large sculptural bell mobiles Bobby had remembered hanging from trees in the courtyard. Indeed we did; and the couple found the statement piece they were envisioning - a bronze sculptural bell mobile - almost immediately.


Christopher says, “It’s hard to describe but it was just perfect. I’m a ‘right fit, right time’ kind of person, so if it evokes the right feeling, then I know we have to get it.” Back home in California, the impressive kinetic sculptural piece is suspended from a custom-made base in their garden, not far from the #107 bell they'd been gifted.


True “Cosanti Superfans,” Bobby and Christopher have continued to grow their collection of Cosanti Originals art pieces, most recently adding one of our rain chains made with chunks of stained glass, fossils, and geodes. Says Bobby, “Everyone admires these pieces - they are not only beautiful to look at and listen to, but they come with an incredible story honoring this tradition of skilled artisans making things by hand, perfecting their craft, bringing beauty to the world one bell at a time.”

Photo credits: Bobby and Christopher in Temecula, CA

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Olive A Good Story!

June 1st is National Olive Day

Visiting Cosanti in Paradise Valley, you've likely noticed the olive trees, their leafy branches supporting eye-catching sculptural bell mobiles and casting shade to provide a respite from the intense Arizona sun. Olive trees thrive at Arcosanti as well, mixing with the tall cypress and gnarled mesquite trees in the harsh terrain on the mesa there.

The story of how these olive trees came to be part of our distinctive landscape is a story worth telling. What better day to share it than today, National Olive Day? (No kidding! There's such a thing!)


The olive trees at Cosanti and Arcosanti are all descendants of an "arboreal rescue mission" in the early 1960s. As Camelback Road in Phoenix was being widened, the big, picturesque olive trees that lined the street were to be destroyed to make room for extra lanes of traffic. As the trees were being chopped down late one afternoon, Cosanti founder Paolo Soleri drove by. An early proponent of recycling, reusing, and repurposing, he persuaded the foreman to allow him to rescue some trees from their cruel fate. Soleri was permitted to take as many trees as he wished, but there was a catch: they had to be removed by the end of the following day.

Though evening was approaching, Soleri was undeterred and he enlisted the help of three apprentices at Cosanti - Cuyler Page, Floy Damon, and Ivan Pintar - and together, they began to dig out the giant root balls of the enormous trees with shovels and pickaxes, hoping to keep enough of the roots alive to survive transplanting. Working against the clock, through the night the scene was lit only by the headlights of Soleri's VW van. The four men worked with little rest until the next day. And at the deadline, six fully mature olive trees were ready to make the journey to Cosanti, just 8 miles away. But how to get them there?

Soleri flagged down a farmer whose truck had a fixed boom, figuring the vehicle would be well-equipped for the task. (Imagine, if you will, a time when Camelback Road was lined not with stately homes but sprawling farms and ranches!) But the truck's boom was so low and these trees were so long and tall, their treetops and branches would end up dragging on the road...which Soleri, alarmed, soon found out, watching the truck slowly drive off with the first tree. Chasing after the truck whose driver was unaware of the scene unfolding behind him, Soleri frantically attempted to lift and hold the dragging branches. Fondly says Page, who was there that day and shared this story with us, "It was a scene like out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon, with the rusty old blue truck and its homemade crane carrying a giant tree that dwarfed the truck. Add to that, this skinny little man running behind, the perfectionist tree hugger, gathering armloads of branches, busily trying to do the impossible and save every branch, spare every leaf!"


Miraculously, all six transplanted olive trees survived and propagated several dozen more over the years that today are a part of the unique charm of both Cosanti and Arcosanti, lending their branches to suspend windbells, casting shade, and some years, even producing olives that are hand-harvested and pressed into extra virgin olive oil locally by the Queen Creek Olive Mill.


Photo credits, top to bottom: Shutterstock, Paolo Soleri Archives at Arcosanti, Unknown, Arizona Historical Society

Artisanti Editor & Creative Director: Kelly Bird

Contributing Writer: Chloe Sykes

Graphic Designer: Jesca Wales

Header and footer photo credit: Jessica Jameson Photo